Electoral winner-take-all bill amended

Lawmakers amended a bill Feb. 24 that would reinstate a winner-take-all system for allocating Nebraska’s presidential electoral votes.

Currently, the winner of Nebraska’s statewide popular vote receives two Electoral College votes. The state’s three congressional districts also award one electoral vote each based on the popular vote winner in each district. Maine is the only other state to use this system.

LB10, introduced by Omaha Sen. Beau McCoy, would reinstate a winner-take-all system and award all five electoral votes to the winner of the state’s popular vote.

During a second day of general file debate, senators voted down a motion offered by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers to bracket the bill until June 5. Chambers said LB10 is a means to suppress the vote of the states’ 2nd Congressional District, which was won by President Barack Obama in 2008.

Returning to a winner-take-all system would deprive Democrats in that district a meaningful voice in elections, he said.

“You can mark a piece of paper, but you are voting for nobody,” Chambers said. “That is not a vote—if it has no meaning, that is not a vote.”

The motion failed on a vote of 12-30.

Omaha Sen. Tanya Cook offered an amendment, adopted 34-4, which removes an existing statutory requirement that a political party formulate and promulgate a platform at its state convention.

“An adoption of [the amendment] merely removes the requirement from state law,” she said, calling it an unnecessary state mandate.

Sen. John Murante, chairperson of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, supported the amendment. He said the change would continue an effort begun by the Legislature last year to curtail state law when it imposes on the functioning of political parties.

“I think [the amendment] is consistent with that logic,” Murante said.

The Legislature adjourned for the day before taking any other action on the bill. A Chambers amendment is pending.

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